The House of WolfCahpter 1: The Elevation of GarrethGens Bleddyn, my father, stands before the Council and lifts me, his arms outstretched. He holds me thus while he recites my lineage from the founder of House Bleddyn. It is no great feat of strength or endurance for my father to do this. I am only six days old and weigh but 3.4 kilograms.
Thirteen members of the Council sit on the High Dais. My elder-by-eighteen-years brother, a lieutenant in the Home Guard, sits in the thirteenth seat—Father’s seat—at the right of the First Speaker. Patriarchs and Matriarchs of Lesser Clans are seated along both sides of the chamber.
My elder-by-twelve-years and elder-by-nine-years brothers, and elder-by-six-years sister stands at Father’s right hand. My elder-by-three-years brother fidgets beside Sister. Their surrogates stand behind them. My surrogate, in whose womb I had been nurtured after Mother’s egg was combined with Father’s seed, stands at Father’s left. Mother is a starship captain, and will not return to World for millennia. Other, older siblings are enrolled in Academy or serving on starships.
After he names himself, my father says, “I present to the Council my ninth child, Garreth Bleddyn.” Garreth is the name of an ancient soldier of our Clan who was known for both bravery and modesty. I do not know then how this name might guide my life. In fact, I do not know any of this at the time of my elevation. I do not remember much before my third year, when I witness the elevations of a younger sibling.
Nor do I remember that during my elevation three members of Lesser Clans stand from their seats and lift weapons. “Clan Bleddyn ends today,” one cries.
On the High Dais, Brother sees and reacts. Before the third word leaves the mouth of the enemy, he stands, raises his weapon, and fires. One of the three assassins falls, but not before firing his own weapon. The burst of energy does not hit Brother, but the First Speaker. My surrogate sees Brother’s movements. Without hesitation, she turns, lifts her own weapon, and fires on a second enemy. He falls and the energy from his pistol rakes the wall behind the High Dais.
My elder brothers’ and sister’s surrogates drop to the floor, pulling their children with them and protecting them with their own bodies and their robes while their eyes cast about for targets. Father clasps me to his breast and wraps me in the ceremonial and armored robe he wears over his uniform. He stands facing the Council, sure that his family will protect him—and me.
There is a scuffle with raised fists and flashing daggers and a third would-be assassin falls to the onslaught of those around him in the benches of the Lesser Clans.
“He is dead,” a voice calls from the melee.
He is dead. So are two other assassins and so is the First Speaker. He is the ancient Gens Hywel. He holds the Speakership of the Council for one solar year in a rotation among the Greater Clans. He is an innocent, struck down in one of the endless feuds that I learn are the true rule of the people—the Res Publica.
The assassination attempt is a foolish thing. Even if the attackers had killed all of us present at the ceremony, Clan Bleddyn would not have died. I have many brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins. The attack was not against the Clan, but against its patriarch, my father, Gens Bleddyn.
© 2016 Paul W. Lentz, Jr.
Registered Curmudgeon, scientist, skeptic, humanist, and writer.